April, 2010 Archives


Sailing to the (Quarter) Moon in Yorke Town

by Lefort in Music

Thom Yorke came to his town again Saturday night, and proved once more why he and his chosen mates (this time as a part of his Atoms of Peace) have won this town and all of rock and roll.

While we love others’ work at the (somewhat) micro-level, such as the quintessential, quinte-Cali songs and delivery of Pavement, at the macro-level Thom and his mates have captured the flag (due respect to the global aspirations of U2).   There can be no better at casting aspersions (without beating heads) regarding the world’s eco/political state or previewing the pearly gates, and doing it with a musical complexity and beauty that is hands-held-high above all others.

Thom came ’round to Santa Barbara and its Bowl this time swinging, with Flea on bass, Nigel Goodrich on keyboards/guitar/backup vocals, Joey Waronker on drums and Mauro Refosco on percussion.  Thom does the dance, Nigel fills, floods and harmonizes, Flea out-bobbles all other humans and brazenly techno-funks, while Joey and Mauro supply perfect, pounding percussion.

The Atoms of Peace played all of Yorke’s Eraser, significantly-enhanced stylee.  And in between and around, Thom sat at the piano and without accompaniment wailed Radiohead’s Videotape (watch below) and Everything in Its Right Place, before gathering the forces for an indescribable enhancement of Radiohead’s b-sided Paperbag Writer (watch below).  Everything and every movement was in its right and proper place.  And all of the proceedings were presided over by an incessant quarter-moon (in this ten million town, apologies to Townes).  Sailing to the (Quarter) Moon indeed.

Sure, we hoped for more, and more Radiohead songs, and deeply missed the Love Will Tear Us Apart Joy Division-cover that they delivered right before at the Fox Theater in Oakland.  But we walked away knowing that we had been blessed by the best in the bidness.

This town is Yorke Town anew.

Below are others’ capturings.  The first is of the Thom/Flea Show on Radiohead’s B-side Paperbag Writer, giving a feel for the driving, dissonant, techno-funk, and and some real dancing with the real stars.  The second is vintage Thom solo on Videotape, with chromatic chords and sonorous-siren vocals (I was right next to this high (mos!)-def video-ist).


Beach House For Sale–Moving to Middle East

by Lefort in Music


Middle East encore!  Last night we showed up at Soho in Santa Barbara to find the same, stellar opening act as the night before at Pavement!!  The Daily Double.  And once again, these Aussies showed they are a force to be reckoned with (though one might have hoped for more force last night–more on that below).  The guitar, drums, bass, accordion, keys, banjo and trumpet attack of Middle East can be forceful indeed, and the harmonies are seriously above-grade.  However, perhaps because they were opening for Beach House in a smaller venue (compared with Pavement/Fox Theater in Pomona), Middle East severely racheted-back the energy forces and focused on their softer side, even ending their set with a solo ballad (solo ballad I tell ya!).  G’day and g’night.  Having seen them the night before, and as good as it was, I can tell you Santa Barbara was short-changed.  Here’s hoping they continue to balance their balladry with their more energetic songs and delivery.

As for Beach House and its sale, we gave it a good look.   This was our second tour of the House, and so far, we’re not buying.  While the basic structure is sound, the pipes strong and plentiful throughout, and the lyrics painted above and on the doors somewhat beguiling, the overall style and paint-job ultimately are entirely too monochromatic to make one want to buy it.  This House is in need of some aggressive touches in just the right places to distinguish it (e.g. some radical reds and some blazing black thrown around, or an added Kandinsky gallery).  And we don’t mean those geometric-piñatas in the entertainment room.

As always, the proof for this buyer is in the parties thrown at the house, and whether or not they inspire or incite you to rise above.  And at this Beach House, just when you think the coterie is about to be treated to something revelatory by the House hosts and the party kicked up a couple notches, instead they bring out some Stevie Nicks tribute band (with matching hair), and any possible fire is doused.  This Beach House may get some offers, but it’s not going to sell without a re-examined remodel that at least intermittently takes its “good bones” to higher ground.


Pavement Hit the Pavement

by Lefort in Music

Sometimes you wait forever for some long-hoped for event to happen, and then when it happens you wish it hadn’t because of the unbearable bubble-burst and ballyhoo-bust.  Well I’ve been waiting for 18 years to see this band and hear these songs live, and Pavement didn’t in the least disappoint, but instead delivered on decades of unrealistically heightened expectation and anticipation.  And they did it with a generous 31 songs.  Huge.

We arrived at 9pm just in time to catch the last few songs of surprising opening band, Middle East, from Australia.   They finished with a beautiful, 6-part harmonized, trumpet- and banjo- augmented, Arcade-Fire-esque song, and are worthy of keeping track of based solely on this finale.  Highly recommended.

After a short break, Malkmus, Spiral Stairs, Bob and band sauntered onto the stage above which was a halo/helix of country-fair lights.  And off they went.  From Silence Kit all the way through to Hexx and two long ensuing encores ending in Conduit, the band exceeded my expectations.  The  songs early in the set were slightly ragged and slapdash, but the band just kept gathering momentum, energy and tightening as the set went on.  Too dang good.

About 7-8 songs in I noticed that my face was aching from the involuntary smile pasted on wide.

Malkmus started off feigning some disinterest and somnambulism, but every time he stepped to the mike any ennui fell aside and he sang the songs in earnest, like they deserved.  Scott was all smiles and came to the mike with a slightly different approach that smacked of wisdom and growth, but lacked some of the prior verve and upper register.  Bob was perfectly over the top, whether as part of the dual-drum attack, or with his brandished cowbell, harmonica, zither, or when accompanying with sating screams and hardy-har-harmony vocals.  And on Unfair, Bob delivered, hands down, the best Johnny Rotten imitation seen in the new millennium (including, sadly, Mr. Lydon’s recent PIL performances, as goulishly compelling as they may be).  Bob he ranted on Unfair of the siphoning by the south (as the south sang along).   “Shake your nachos like you just don’t care!!”  Indeed.  And underneath and behind, the Steve and Mark rhythm section swung well in support.

While we’ve enjoyed much of the post-Pavement Malkmus (with and without Jicks) ouevre and shows, the later, jammy, blues-ish offerings have lacked the original spark.  And what tonight reaffirmed is that Malkmus has always been primarily about the songs (well and that gifted guitar madness) and lyrics.   Malkmus tosses off alternatingly poignant and hilarious lines that embed in your head for decades.  The pathos of “caught my father crying,” “epileptic surgeons with their eyes x’ed out attend to the torn up kid,” “when they rise up in the falling rain,” “i was dressed for success but success it never comes,”and “starlings in the slipstream” are leavened by the bathos of “a redder shade of neck on a whiter shade of trash” and “darlings on the split-screen.”  And the melodies alternatingly sing you and jar you, but are always inventive and often imbued with a math-jazz-blues motif.

But you probably knew that already.

We end with a plea:  Dear Stephen, we hope you (and each Pavement member) find anew the interest and affection for more of the Pavement-esque songsmithing and delivery, and leave the jamming to Phish and the other phops.

Many of the  song highlights of the evening were as expected, but I was reminded of the weight and worth of Hexx, Stop Breathin’ and Here.

Can’t wait for the Greek in Berkeley on June 25th.


Silence Kit

Ell Ess Two

Give It A Day


No Life Singed Her

Father to a Sister of Doubt

Rattled by the Rush

Kennel District

In The Mouth A Desert

Shady Lane


Spit On A Stranger


Two States

Range Life

Perfume V

Gold Soundz

Fight This Generation

Summer Babe

Cut Your Hair


Encore 1:

Date With Ikea

Trigger Cut

Stop Breathin’

Starlings in the Slipstream

Box Elder


Encore 2:


Zurich Is Stained

Loretta’s Scars



Jesse Winchester–Killing Softly on Costello’s Spectacle Show

by Lefort in Music

Elvis is coming to Santa Barbara, and I was reminded by a blurb in the paper of Jesse Winchester’s heartrending performance of his newish song Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding from the second season of Costello’s spectacular Spectacle show on The Sundance Channel (Wednesday nights).  Costello is quoted as listing this performance as the finest moment of all of the two Spectacle seasons.  I couldn’t agree more, though a surprising close second was Costello’s and Elton John’s duet on the very first Spectacle episode of the great David Ackles’ song Down River.

Spectacle is a treasure trove, and highly recommended.

Check out ole Jesse jerking the tears right out of Neko Case and Costello fightin’ it off until he’s “finished.”  Great performance and homage to a long, loving relationship.  May it be so.


“Let The Great World Spin” by Collum McCann

by Lefort in Books

Comments Off on “Let The Great World Spin” by Collum McCann Comments

OK so I’m a little late to the game on this one (it’s out in paperback ferheavensake), but having just finished McCann’s National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin, my head is still spinnin’.  As opposed to some of the winners in prior years, where you’re left scratching your head and wondering what the heck the jury was thinking, McCann’s book is a well-deserved winner.

McCann has managed to weave disparate, well-wrought episodes into a larger whole that provides both a snapshot of an era in America’s life, but also an elegy of sorts to post-9/11 America.  And despite the inherent bereavement and loss, hope is shored up.  Encouragement is given to choke back and choke up, with due acknowledgment that this life isn’t always fair.  And beauty and comfort are found in the least likely of circumstances.  That’s life.

Irish immigrant McCann also distinguishes himself well with his ability to convincingly inhabit a myriad of characters, regardless of their age, social station or race.

With the foregoing as some backdrop, you get a brief taste from these excerpts:

“That’s how it goes.  Everything flies through the windshield.”

“Make this world dark.  Release me.  Give me love, Lord, but not just yet.”

“We stumble on, now, we drain the light from the dark, to make it last…. Sounds outside, growing clearer in the silence, traffic at first, machine hum, cranework, playgrounds, children, the tree branches down on the avenue slapping each other around.  We stumble on…, bring a little noise into the silence, find in others the ongoing of ourselves.  It is almost enough….  The world spins.  We stumble on.  It is enough….  The clock.  The fan.  The breeze.  The world spinning.”

Highly recommended.


K’Naan and Nneka

by Lefort in Music

No, it ain’t’ no anagram.   Instead (at long last) it’s songs and sounds closely insinuating Marley-esque maneuvers.  This pair is inspired and inspiring, and aspire to the higher ground that only Marley delivered.  This time Jamaica has given way to Afro-centric origins.   Here in Amerique, we’ve been waiting for Lil’ This and Lil’ That to deliver (Rikers?  How’s that, fool?), and though worthy, Lupe Fiasco can’t meet the need for a new musical messiah.  So  she (Nneka) and (ahem) him (K’Naan) have come forward to fill the void.  Did they fall to earth or have they been toiling away just waiting for us to finally open our ears?  I dunno….  But these two  demand one’s undivided attention.  In the spirit of Nesta, we are blessed with K’Naan and Nneka.  As for K’Naan (via Somalia/Mogadishu), there’s not an untrue moment.  The sing-song synapses fire on People Like Me in particular at -2:09 to go,  and the heavenly chorus enraptures.  And Nneka??  She of Nigerian/Germanic persuasion?  On Kangpe she hands it off to her handlers and cohorts at -2:30 for a stellar sequence, but she and the song speak gospel throughout.  And it’s Easter.  So praise be to the most high.

K’Naan–People Like Me

Photo by James Minchin

14 People Like Me


10 Kangpe